Ticket scofflaws, beware: Traverse City is targeting your wallet.
In a 5-2 vote, city commissioners on Monday night paved the way for higher fines for those who overstay their welcome at downtown meters. A final vote on the rate hikes is scheduled for the board’s Nov. 15 meeting.
The current $5 fine would double to $10 if paid within 15 days. If paid in 16 to 30 days, the ticket would be $20; if paid after 30 days, it would cost $30. The same fines would apply to drivers who don’t have a parking permit and get busted parking in permit-only lots.
The rate hikes were proposed by the Downtown Development Authority, which oversees the parking system, and are designed to raise $109,000 to maintain the parking system’s fund balance and pay for long-term maintenance for the city parking decks.
“I just thought that when we built the parking decks that we built in the maintenance costs,” said commissioner Jim Carruthers, who predicted that the higher meter fees will mostly be paid by tourists.
City Manager Ben Bifoss explained that maintenance costs can’t be built into bonding issues and that fines help fund the entire parking system.
“I don’t think street fines should be paying for the parking deck,” said Mayor Pro Tem Ralph Soffredine, who voted against the measure to consider the ordinance change. “It looks to me like a money maker, and I don’t think it’s fair.”
Executive Director Bryan Crough said the DDA looked at a number of options to raise the $109,000, including fines, permits and raising meter rates. According to DDA estimates, the new meter violation fines will raise an estimated $59,000. The balance would come from higher meter bag fees (incurred when a meter is temporarily covered in a bag to prevent parking) and increased parking permit costs.
“It was decided that $5 was just not taken seriously as a fine,” said Crough. “We never like to raise parking rates. I think the rates are reasonable [at the increased rate of $10].”
The city treasurer’s office processes more than 20,000 parking tickets annually.
At the Nov. 15 meeting, TC commissioners will also consider pricier parking permits. Under that proposal, monthly surface permits would go from $35 to $40, a quarterly permit would rise from $85 to $90, and an annual permit would jump from $290 to $320.
A monthly parking deck permit would go from $50 to $60, a quarterly deck would climb from $105 to $120, and an annual deck permit would jump from $370 to $405.